Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Blasting Pirates

I don’t plan to start advertising businesses, apart from the unavoidable popups, but if I come across something I think is worth sharing, I will. There’s a company/program/app/whatever you call it, that’s still in the beta stage and is, I think free for now. It certainly cost me nothing, which will surprise no-one who’s been reading my blog for long! Anyway what Blasty does is find out where an author’s books are being pirated and then send alerts. All you have to do is go through the list and press the orange blast button. Fun! I was resigned to the fact that my books were vulnerable to piracy, but I had no idea how many there were out there. Blasty found over 100 and I blasted them all! This is my invitation link which is a little weird and I’m pretty sure I don’t get free Tupperware or anything else (if I do I’ll let you know–full disclosure!) but it might mean you get it free.

Please don’t assume I know anything about the safety of this or any other program/app or whatever. I did do a little research but you should do some too. I can tell you I haven’t had any problems: https://www.blasty.co/invitation/2DRw3RpU

In other news, I’ve decided to ditch Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and am taking all my books off when their exclusivity runs out. I’ve already put several across to Draft to Digital, which makes them available on iTunes and Barnes and Noble, and more. They’ll still be on Amazon, for sale only on Amazon.com and Amazon.UK

 


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Instafreebie

I’ve recently started putting stories on Instafreebie, which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a site where, obviously enough, you can find free reads! It seems well organised and, from an author point of view, is another way of reaching new readers. Apart from the short stories I’ll continue to list as free on a permanent basis, I’m also putting books up for around a week at a time. If anyone knows anything I don’t know about Instafreebie I’d love to hear from you! At this stage I’m only using the free service; I know you can pay for different services.

These are my perma free stories at the moment and I intend to add another one very soon:

you never knew  You probably think this story’s about you, don’t you?

Brown Dog  Luke is flat broke and living in his car at the beach when an old mutt sidles up to him–the last thing he needs, or is it?

What Did You Say?  Not a short story but a small ebook to help with grammar and punctuation. Do you know the real purpose of the humble apostrophe?

I always tweet the temporary giveaways and you can find details on the right side of my blog posts or on twitter.

I’ve just been on my annual trek to my home town for my mother’s birthday. I do try to get there more often but never miss Mum’s birthday. She’s 97 now and still living at home (alone) and cooking her own meals. She does have some help with the housework as well as the garden but she still likes to potter around out there as well. There are lots of other family members who live much closer than I do, fortunately, including more grandchildren and great grandchildren than I can keep track of! It’s always nice to visit my old home town but it’s good to come back to the place that’s been my home for over 30 years.

Most of my books are available in print and ebook on Amazon.com and Amazon.UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Happy New Year?

It’s the first day of 2017 here in Oz; according to my world clock it’s still last year elsewhere, but Happy New Year wherever and whenever you are!

I sometimes think the millions of dollars spent on New Year celebrations, especially fireworks, is a complete waste of money and could be used more effectively elsewhere. I’ve not been to any of the city firework shows and they look amazing but the effort put in to getting a good spot is ridiculous. People come from all over the world to camp out overnight around Sydney Harbour; one young man from Taiwan, the first in line, had been there from 6 am the morning before New Years Eve. I hope it was worth it for him! I also think all that smoke would drive me nuts, not to mention the crowds. 500,000 people were there, in spite of, or maybe because of, terrorist threats!

I am, of course, a grumpy old woman, and if I was in my twenties and lived in Sydney or any major city, I’d probably be there, drink way too much and regret it the next morning. But I’d have a ball, of course. And to see so many people of all colours, children and adults, enjoying themselves together and loving the spectacle makes me think perhaps it is worth the money. Maybe we should have more such celebrations that everyone can agree on.

When I was a kid, in the country, we always celebrated Guy Fawkes Day with fireworks. Generally there was a vacant block of land somewhere in the neighbourhood and we’d get together with family and friends and write in the air with our sparklers while Dad and the other men lit rockets and wheels that were pinned on to poles and spun around, throwing sparks everywhere. It’s a fond childhood memory, but gatherings like that are now against the law and while a part of me thinks that’s a great pity, the fact that two men died last night using illegal fireworks makes me agree we probably can’t go back to that. I have no idea if anyone was killed back in the days of my childhood from firework accidents although I’m quite sure there were injuries. Now I doubt there could be such a family occasion without alcohol, which would be disastrous.

I enjoyed a celebratory can of bourbon and coke and managed to stay awake long enough to watch the Sydney fireworks on TV and I’m happy with that. I did consider driving into town and standing around watching the fireworks–I live in a regional city and they do put on quite a good show–but my recliner was more appealing. Now the new year is here and Christmas is over and I really must get back to work this week; I have a book half finished and the other half is swirling around in my head! I wish you all a great 2017.

I have a couple of books for the kids free on the 2nd and the 8th of January and I’ll post the links then to my Facebook page or you can check my author pages on Amazon.com or Amazon.UK 


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Snakes and Spiders in the Land of Oz

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the video of a huntsman spider dragging a mouse up a fridge door.

I’m not surprised it’s gone viral; we all love to talk about our creepy crawlies here and to be perfectly honest I’d be pretty freaked out by that sight myself, but I’m easily freaked out by mice anyway. If we had a resident huntsman capable of killing mice I’d be okay with that, though I’d rather he did it in the dead of night. Fortunately we don’t have mice and any huntsmen I see are nowhere near that big.

I didn’t know whether to be amused or . . . what? when I heard some Americans had cancelled their planned holidays to Australia after seeing that video, but given that most of my readers are from USA I thought it worth explaining a few things about our creepy crawlies. Huntsmen, first of all, are common but perfectly harmless, unless you’re an insect. Or a mouse apparently! And they’re not usually that big.

I spent my very early years living in a house surrounded by orange trees, quite a few miles from the nearest town. The little school I went to was also surrounded by trees, or grape vines–I’m not sure now, but I do remember sitting on the ground with my friends eating lunch and drinking rain water from a red plastic mug. The rain water often had wrigglers (mosquito larvae) in it and no doubt a few things we couldn’t see but they didn’t do us any harm.

Most of my schooling was after we moved to a bigger country town–we used to swim in the river and I spent quite a lot of time at the farm when my older sister married a farmer. I’ve also lived in Queensland, both on the beach and inland. Would you like to know how many snakes I’ve seen? Not counting zoos, none!

I’m not suggesting visitors (or anyone)  should run around the  bush barefoot, or approach snakes or spiders to test if they’re venomous, but generally they prefer their own company. I’m hardly an expert of course, just an average Aussie with a healthy respect for our wildlife–I was once kind of attacked by a kangaroo at a park, so my mother tells me, but I don’t remember it. They can actually be quite dangerous, but like most of our wildlife they don’t actually like us much and stay away. So if you want to go Oz but you’re frightened of spiders and snakes just stay in the civilised areas, or go with a tour, and you can be pretty sure they’ll stay away from you.

For details on my books please see my Non-Fiction and Fiction page or visit my Author Pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK 


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Life Without Power

There’s been massive storms in the last day or two, especially in South Australia, where the whole state was left with no electricity and several thousand homes are still without power. Commiserations to all South Aussies! The storm was forecast to hit us in Victoria last night but nothing happened; now they’re saying some time today but it won’t be as severe as it was in SA. I quite like storms but not blackouts. No-one likes blackouts, except maybe burglars.

Most of us have had the experience of being without electricity for an hour or two; it’s inconvenient and, mostly, boring. If the weather’s okay you can go out, although driving can be a bit risky if the traffic lights are out of action. Have you ever considered how your life would change if the power never came back on?

A few years ago something happened to the gas supply–I forget what, but it was a big deal. Big enough that we had no gas for a couple of weeks. Our house runs mainly on electricity but we do have gas heating and hot water; I don’t think it was particularly cold and we were lucky we have an electric stove and were able to heat water for baths but it wasn’t much fun. There were a few public places with electric hot water systems that allowed people to use their showers and we went to the nearest one, the jockeys’ showers at the race track! It was clean I suppose, but pretty awful and once was enough for me.

I have no idea how I’d survive without electricity though; no stove, no fridge or freezer, no air-conditioner, no TV, no computer, no internet. My phone would work for a little while on 4G but how would I recharge it? When I was a child most of those things didn’t matter and when my mother, who’s now 96, was a child, most of those things didn’t exist and those that did weren’t in every home. People were a lot more self-sufficient. I’m not pining for that kind of lifestyle at all–I like my comforts–but it’s a little scary to think just how dependent we are on other people and machines.

I doubt I’d be writing at all if I had to use a manual typewriter, let alone selling books to be read on kindles on the other side of the world!

For details of my books please see my ‘Fiction and Non-Fiction Page‘ or my Author pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.UK.


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Sins of the Media

 

Live television is to blame for many grammatical errors and I don’t envy those brave souls who put themselves in that position. The occasional mistake, such as ‘getable’ or ‘most remotest’, which I’ve heard recently, should probably be expected with the pressure of being put ‘on the spot’.What annoys me more than these one-off errors are the continual mispronunciations, such as Antartica, instead of Antarctica and def’nally, instead of definitely. It appears to be laziness but it might be that the speakers are not aware of their mistake, in which case their employers or the viewers should point it out to them! Our children are watching and unless we want them to pick up bad habits we need to take a stand.

Pollie speak, such as ‘the end of the day’ and ‘at this point in time’ have also crept into the media and into everyday life and hopefully are only temporary. They are annoying but not incorrect. What is becoming more common in the media is the phrase ‘one of the only’, which is not only annoying but poor grammar. It doesn’t make sense, people! What they mean is ‘one of the few’, which is fine, or they could say ‘one of only a few, or a small number’. Please, not ‘one of the only’.

Another common mistake is using ‘unique’ with any intensifier—unique means the only one of its kind. It is not possible to be ‘very unique’ or ‘slightly unique’. A thing is either unique or it isn’t. If that one word is not enough for you, choose a different one.

 ‘Literally’ is another example of a commonly misused word. Some throw it around as if it were a meaningless word that just emphases their statement.  ‘I literally died of shock when I saw my ex in the street!’ No, you didn’t or you wouldn’t be here to tell us about it. Nor did you literally become incontinent when you were similarly shocked by such an event. Or perhaps you did, but if you’re using that word, literally, it means what you are saying is the truth, not an exaggeration.

The Subject of the Verb.

Growing up, John Watson was the principal of the school.

 Police kept a gunman at bay for several hours before being brought down in a hail of bullets.

He was hit by a man wearing a balaclava that was armed with a machete.

 His wife and niece intervened.

 The above sentences are all examples of media mangling, with changes to minor details. Yes, we know what they mean, but why on earth can’t they say it? The first sentence tells us that John Watson was the principal of a school while he was growing up. Is that likely? What the speaker meant was that the other person he had referred to in a previous sentence was a student at the school when John Watson was the principal. In this sentence though, the subject of the verb is clearly John Watson.

The next sentence tells us police were brought down by a hail of bullets and is quite a possible scenario and therefore a more confusing one. The rest of the news story made it quite clear that it was the gunman who was shot, not the police, but in this sentence the subject of the verb is not the gunman but the police. The gunman is the object of the verb – police kept gunman at bay. In order to have this sentence actually say what was intended it could read: Police kept a gunman at bay for several hours before they brought him down in a hail of bullets. Not a particularly good sentence but it is at least clear.

The next example is amusing and obvious – we know the balaclava wasn’t armed with a machete! Neither could we say: He was hit by a man wielding a machete wearing a balaclava. Clearly the machete wasn’t wearing a balaclava any more than the balaclava was wielding a machete!  An easy correction would be simply to say he was hit by a man wearing a balaclava and wielding a machete.

The last sentence would be correct if the man was married to his niece. More likely it’s another example of lazy speech. His wife and his niece intervened is more likely what the speaker meant.  Again, we know what they meant, but why not say that? It’s entirely possible that some people listening would presume that the man was married to his niece.

 Every day I see examples in the media of poor grammar and misuse of words and I urge you again to please encourage your children to read—whether they’re reading the classics or Harry Potter or the Twilight series, get them reading!

The above rant is an excerpt from my free book at Smashwords: What Did You Say?

Please see Amazon for details on my other books.

http://www.amazon.com/Christine-Gardner/e/B00AY80A08

this one book2 karinya ebook

 


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Agony and Ecstasy–Designing your own book covers

Beast_of_War_Cover_for_KindleI finished my latest book a week or so ago and decided to spend some time before I start the next one working on covers, one in particular. I’ve done all of my own covers and currently have 15 books on Amazon; most of them I’m reasonably happy with but the children’s books in particular are really crying out for an artist. There’s no way I’m ever going to find an image of 3 teens, one who’s green and extremely tall and thin, one blue and muscular, and one tiny with white skin and pointy ears, for ‘Beast of War’!

When my youngest son started school I did too and I spent a few years studying art before I decided writing was more my forte. It was fun and hard work and I think the design aspect has proven worthwhile but unfortunately my drawing skills are just not up to scratch, certainly not now if they ever were. Then again my handwriting has deteriorated a lot since I started spending so much time on a computer too and that might be part of it.

Anyway, back to the drawing board–or at least the free photos at morguefile. I did find a picture there that I used for a new cover on ‘Beast of War’, which gives it a fresh look at least. Maybe next year I’ll try the local community college–see if I can find an artist who’ll work for nothing!

 

The only cover I’ve paid for is ‘Inheritance’ and I’m very pleased with that one (from fiverr). I had planned to get the same designer to do my latest new the inheritance coverbook, ‘Red Wine and Summer Storms’, and since it’s book 3 of a series I wanted the other 2 re-done so they’d all sort of match up. I wasn’t happy with his design and I realise now what I actually love about the design of ‘Inheritance’ is the actual picture, which was from one of those sites that sell them, so I went looking for pictures and found one I liked at istock for around $14. Then I redid the titles on the others so they match up reasonably well.

not guilty 2014 coverMy favourite cover, for ‘Not Guilty’, is one of my own photos and the layout is one of Createspace’s, which is considerably easier than using your own.

I’d love to hear from other self-published writers about your cover design stories.

‘Beast of War’ is FREE on Amazon from 4th to 6th December (USA time) and ‘Not Guilty’ is free 4th and 5th. My book of short stories, ‘Connections‘, if free right now, today only.

 

 

 

 

Sunset Vineyard


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You say ‘morl’, I say ‘mal’!

I had an interesting discussion with my grandson recently; I don’t recall how it started but I said something about the mall and he said, “It’s not mal, it’s morl.” I disagreed and he asked if someone offered me $700,000,000 to say it right what would I say and of course I said ‘mal’.

Now my grandson, who I’ll call RK because I’m totally paranoid about using children’s names or photos on the internet, is seven years old and I’ve been an editor and writer many more years than he’s been born. Also I’m his nanna so of course I’m always right!  Right? Mall is one of the words I’m in disagreement with lots of people about though so just to make sure, and so I could show RK the evidence of my superior knowledge, I looked it up in the dictionary.

Turns out we’re both right! Either pronunciation is acceptable, which was a little disappointing for me, but there was a brief explanation of the origins of the word–it started with a game played in an alley and using a mallet. The game was named after the mallet and I believe the alley was then named after the game, so clearly it would have been pronounced ‘mal’, not ‘morl’.

RK then asked if I’d pronounce it ‘morl’ if someone gave me $700,000,000 and I said ‘Absolutely!’

I think ‘morl’ is the usual pronunciation in the US, isn’t it? What about the UK, anyone?

Another mispronunciation I find annoying is ‘Antartica’ rather than ‘Antarctica’; for some reason some people leave out the middle c. I try not to be too bothered by these things though–as I said to RK, people around the world and even around the country have different accents and different pronunciations and even different words for the same thing. For some reason what we in Victoria call potato cakes people in New South Wales call potato scollops. I was born in NSW and grew up mostly in Victoria, with a couple of years as an adult in both Queensland and South Australia.

When I went to school in NSW in year 9 I was somewhat shocked that the acceptable school bag was actually a case, something no-one would be seen dead with in Victoria, or at least my home town. Very nerdy. Not only that but they called it a port, not a case. I refused to use such a thing and had to have the other acceptable substitute, a leather briefcase. Back home we all used what were then airline bags, a zip up bag with a long strap.

Spring has sprung here at last and we’ve had a few lovely days of sunshine–back to dreary again today but I’m well aware it’ll be too sunny and too dry and way too hot soon enough. I don’t look forward to summer but I do love spring.

Happy reading.

Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle   karinya cover   BookCoverImageher fleshandblood


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Breaking in a new computer

Our old computer is, at best, comatose. Hopefully number 1 son, who works in IT, will be able to resurrect it at least sufficiently to get all my email contacts and photos, etc., but we were probably due for a new one anyway. So now I have a shiny new one on my desk and no excuses for not getting on with it. But . . . it’s not that I don’t like new things but I’m not one of those women who adores buying new shoes–I like my comfy old ones. And it took me weeks to break in my new recliner when the old one collapsed. My computer chair is at least ten years old and I bought a new one last year that seemed comfy in the store but when I got it home I only sat on it for half an hour and my back was killing me. So I took it back and had the old one repaired. I decided I’ll just keep getting new bits for it and eventually it’ll all be new bits anyway, but comfortable.

So the new computer is fine but I hated the keyboard. And the mouse, so I’m using my old ones. We installed my old version of Office, having been assured it would be compatible with Windows 8.1 or whatever number we’re on now. Everything seemed fine until I tried to write dialogue. Even then it was fine–a little odd that the quotation marks didn’t come up straight away, but they appeared miraculously when I typed in the next letter. But then I attempted to start dialogue with ‘I’ and things got really weird. After a few experiments I found that while all consonants allowed the quotation mark, whenever I wanted to start dialogue with a vowel, instead of the quotation mark, the letter appeared with two dots above it! I don’t know what these are called or what use they have but I’m pretty sure I don’t need them!sanctuary cover 2014

No-one I asked had any idea what was going on and I thought perhaps my old version of Office wasn’t compatible with the new Windows after all. I had searched online forums with no result and then one last google gave me an immediate solution–apparently my new computer was tuned in to the USA version for keyboards and when I changed it to UK, there being no AUS version, it was fine. I’m still perplexed though–can any US citizens out there tell me why you would want a vowel with two dots above it?

My Sci-fi book, Sanctuary, is free 8th and 9th of May.

Sanctuary is a sci-fi novel for young adults, telling the story of two very different civilizations in the year 2493 AD. The Thrallians are descended from mainstream society; they have blended all racial differences and are bred in laboratories in order to guarantee all citizens will uphold peace and harmony in Thrallia.

The Centrals are descended from the street kids of the 20th century, who lived in the underground subways. They live on whatever they can forage and their society is primitive in comparison with that of Thrallia.

Patric lives in Thrallia, a modern city protected from the scorching sun and unbearable conditions of the outside world. An historian, he has heard of a people called the Moles, who once lived in an underground city nearby, but doesn’t believe they actually existed. Then his friend Derek discovers a strange girl imprisoned in the quarter where the Supers, rulers of Thrallia, live.

Happy Reading and please leave a review on Amazon if you enjoy Sanctuary.


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Sorting Fact from Fiction

Does anyone else get a bit annoyed when they’re reading a book which purports to be non-fiction but is clearly riddled with fiction elements–the way people are feeling, for example, or what they were thinking about? It’s possible, if the writer is using diary entries, to stick to the facts and still include such details, but generally they must be invented. I don’t object to that style of writing at all–it makes the characters seem more real and makes the book more interesting, but I do like to know what is fact and what is fiction.

One of my all-time favourite genres is historical fiction–I’ve always been fascinated with history but even more so when it’s interpreted by a great writer. Some writers do let the reader know at the end of the story just what’s real and what isn’t and that’s what I did in my historical fiction, “Her Flesh and Blood”. BookCoverImageher fleshandblood

I attended university a few years ago as a mature age student, majoring in history. I loved it, especially the research, which I expected to find horribly boring. I admit some of the books were, but the primary research was absolutely fascinating. Reading newspapers over 100 years old and handling original letters written by a murderess before she committed her crimes, in 1910, I felt incredibly privileged! I wrote my Honours thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder; as I said, the research was amazing, but writing within the boundaries of a university thesis was a hard slog.

After I graduated I felt I had to use the material I hadn’t been able to use for my thesis, that the story needed to be told, and I wrote “Not Guilty“, the story of the worst of the cases I studied, which, coincidentally, took place in the town where I live. This is a true account and the newspaper accounts are very creative but, as a writer with a fiction background, I was frustrated by what, in spite of all my research, I could not find out about my protagonist, Camellia McCluskey, so I not guilty 2014 coverblogdecided to give her a life of her own and wrote a fictionalized account. Having been somewhat obsessed with this horrific crime for several years it was a bit like an exorcism when I wrote “Her Flesh and Blood“. I was able to say what I wanted to, without the restrictions and I made sure I noted at the end of the book what was factual and what wasn’t! I also published my original thesis, “Demented Mothers“, on Amazon, for those who like all the facts and the sources and especially for anyone who might be studying the topic.

It’s the last day of 2014 here in Oz–Happy New Year to everyone. Let’s hope it’s peaceful.

My grammar guide, “What Did You Say?” and my children’s book, “No-one’s Good at Everything“, are free from December 31 to January 2.